France to assist with Africa vaccine drive

France will strive to help vaccinate 40% of Africa's population by the end of the year, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday (May 29) during an official visit in South Africa.

He pledged to invest in boosting the continent's production of COVID-19 vaccines, to help close a gap between African and Western nations.

"As long as we haven't vaccinated everywhere, we are exposed to a risk, because that means that the epidemic could continue to spread among the most impoverished, that mutations could arise and then come back up. So this is of course in our interest. And so I want to set this goal in Africa to have 40 percent of the population vaccinated by year end, and in coordination with Africa, to have 60 percent by mid-2022."

Macron said Africa made up around 20% of the world's need for vaccines but only 1% of production.

He reiterated support for waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, a move also supported by the United States but opposed by Germany.

France plans to deliver 30 million doses to the continent by year-end, part of more than 100 million doses that the European Union plans to deliver this year.

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